Addressing Christchurch’s IT ‘fit’ shortage

Addressing Christchurch’s IT ‘fit’ shortage

One of the primary reasons people working in IT leave their jobs is boredom - lack of challenge, new projects and career advancement opportunities - and off they head in search of greener fields.

So it’s not surprising there’s such a high level of IT staff retention in Christchurch right now – along with high-volume hiring for new IT positions that are predominantly permanent. Everything is in growth mode; new teams are being built, new projects being launched, new generation fledgling tech companies pushing forward rapidly etc.

In short, there’s a wealth of challenging and inspiring opportunities for IT professionals ranging from joining one of the many tech start-ups or growth-oriented small to medium business through to larger public and private sector organisations head-hunting to support major new projects.

After ten years’ recruiting in the local IT market, I’m seeing not just growth but interesting change. The post-quake recovery has spawned a uniquely collaborative and innovative spirit. We recruit very, very few roles where you’d get to sit alone in the corner. Christchurch wants and needs ambitious people who are great communicators and collaborators who want to be involved and make a difference.

Indeed, while some say there’s an IT skills shortage down here, it’s far outweighed by the ‘fit’ shortage. There are plenty of candidates out there with the right skills, but for employers, the priority is getting the right person. Working with Christchurch employers every day I can emphatically say that team-players are in high demand.

Employers are very savvy at this level and will happily invest in training the right person rather than hire on skills alone.  There’s a real drive to create engaged teams through more structured professional development as businesses increasingly brining in professionals to train teams as a whole.

It’s not all about job-focused professional development. Employers are taking a holistic approach to looking after their teams by offering health and wellbeing programme and being very flexible in how they support people’s needs. For instance, finding accommodation in Christchurch can be challenging and employers are stepping up to find solutions. I’ve seen companies use their networks to find temporary lodgings – even partnering with hotels to get new staff on the ground.

So what skills are in high demand? In my experience, I’ve never seen such a vibrant and interesting market. Demand for Software Developers continues off the back of the booming software sector, with a new generation of start-up smart developers achieving growth very quickly – especially in the mobile app and web space. And they’re paying well, offering great opportunities for people to get involved and take on a lot of responsibility very quickly. Generally they’re open-minded as to level and skill set and will often train and develop juniors - and offer contracts where permanent resource is not available.

We’re also seeing very high demand for Business, Technical Analysts and Testers with Automation and Technical Test capabilities for both contracting and permanent opportunities. And, there’s on-going demand for .Net and Java Development.

We have seen a ramp up in Systems/Network Engineering requirements, primarily in response to growth in the Vendor space and clients embarking on technology refreshes as equipment becomes outdated and new platforms become available.

In the contracting space, the market has been very quiet, with some demand for Test and BA resource, however at much lower levels than earlier this year.

We’re finding that for candidates seeking work, it’s all about being part of the very strong referral network. At Sourced, 52% of the candidates we employed from April to July this year came from referrals and candidates opting to ‘register as a job seeker’ with us. We were able to help a large number of overseas candidates secure employment in this period too – 41% were new to New Zealand with no prior Christchurch experience. Fewer than 30% of our placements required advertising to find the right candidate, which is very indicative of the market tapping into strong networks.

So if you, or someone you know, are interested in seeing what Christchurch IT opportunities are here, get in touch with us at www.get-sourced.co.nz  We’d love to hear from you.

Michelle Bishop (MRCSA) is a Principal Consultant at Sourced, a specialist Christchurch IT recruitment agency.